The Practice of Kindness

"The appearance of things changes according to the emotions, and thus we see magic and beauty in them, while the magic and beauty are really in ourselves."
~ Khalil Gibran

On the Seventh Day of the Omer, doing in the area of loving-kindness, and on each week's seventh day, we work on the connection between theory and practice.

Bringing all our thoughts of loving-kindness into reality, into the world of malchut, the sphere in which all our thoughts get put into practice, requires us to recognize the goodness that we ourselves can author in reality.

We can act of out love , devotion, and kindness, when we connect with the boundless mystery within our hearts and souls that allows us to give and care for ourselves and others.

Day Twenty-Eight of the Omer

Malchut in Netzach - ruling and being effective in eternity.

Long term effectiveness - how to put something in place that stands the test of time - I often worry so much I don't dip a toe into the water.

And shouldn't we worry? Someone once thought that eating fat made us fat, so eating low fat would make us skinny. And a person who sold sugar thought that was a great idea. Forty years later look at the experiment that has resulted in the American diet and our health.

We must be careful when we act with eternity in mind, and perhaps we should always act with eternity in mind. The long term effect of this action, and acting with a sense of the long term, these frameworks may be better starting points in any moment of decision and planning.

Act, be bold, and be thoughtful too!

Day Twenty-One of the Omer

Malchut in Tiferet - sovereignty, where ideas meet reality, in the concept of beauty and balance.

Thinking leads to doing, and doing often undoes our thinking. Seldom do the best of our plans survive implementation, and so there is great humility in putting something out there and seeing what happens next.

Let us not fear reality-testing our ideas, let us put them forward boldly, and accept their alteration when they leave our heads and hearts and connect with others.

Something truly beautiful happens when we release the concept to be transformed by conversations that take place beyond the place of genesis.

Day Fourteen of the Omer

Malchut in Gevurah - sovereignty, mastering the now, in power, strength, and discipline.

Getting something done with firmness and strength requires a realistic assessment of the needs for force.

In the moment, we often find ourselves rising to the occasion and thinking that taking the bull by the horns, moving something by force of will, will be effective. Our instinct is often to meet things head on.

So, being present and being thoughtful about the use of strength, is the task we face in the now. Mastery may mean a deep breath before a reaction. Effective agency, reacting in the present, requires careful and thoughtful application of our personal power.

Let us gain rule over our discipline.

Day Seven of the Omer

Our final day in the week focusing on compassion and loving-kindness asks us to reflect on Malchut-Rulership - the mystical concept of the intersection between spirituality and action, where we put our principles into reality.

This morning I find myself reflecting on the cessation of acting as a reflection of compassion. Jews, and for that matter, Americans, love to shoot from the hip verbally - we like to respond quickly and definitively. I continue to work on thinking through my actions through a lens of caring before reacting. My silence may be the most compassionate response.

Day 49 of the Omer - time to do

Malchut in Malchut - the fullness of well-considered meaningful presence and realization in itself.

This is it. Plans have been laid, preparations have been made, we stand in front of our next big motion.

For the Israelites in our story, the mountain and revelation and eventually the holy land lay before them.

What is imminently in front of us? How can we bring all that we have learned and reflected on into the next moment?

Breathe, think, feel, balance, act.

May we all create and find and celebrate as we go forward.

Happy Shavuot tomorrow night everyone!

Day 48 of the Omer - leap from solid ground

Yesod in Malchut - the solid balancing point in the wholeness that rules useful doings.

Our best steps start from solid ground. Bringing all the ingredients together to create that stable starting off spot requires all the principles that we have reflected on up until now.

Find that spot, build it even, and then take the next step trusting in our preparations, hoping for the best, and maintain openness to all the unpredictability that may ensue!

Prepare, plan, set our feet solidly, and then go and do!

Almost through the Omer now - we look towards Shavuot on Tuesday night.

Day 45 of the Omer - inspire the moment

Tiferet in Malchut - balanced beauty in the implementation of divine presence into reality.

Ever been perched on one of those moments when all is ready and we have done everything possible to be prepared and our anticipation is a thrill of perfect beginning?

This could be a physical preparation - about to start a race, or look down the perfect ski slope. An intellectual, social, or emotional endeavor - sitting down to write when we've done the right mental preparation, or sitting across from a person we've been eagerly waiting to talk to for a long time. It could be a spiritual moment - finally getting the chance to sit and reflect or meditate on something important.

All of these reflect some of the great balance and beauty of injecting Tiferet into the next moment of doing. Let us balance our expectations with preparations, and infuse the next minute with some inspired excitement.

Happy Friday, Shabbat Shalom, and more great counting everyone!

Day 44 of the Omer - wise strength

Gevurah in Malchut - rigor and strength in the imminent and sovereign presence.

The application of strength with all of our values behind it requires force and restraint, power and a fine sense of where to apply it and how much.

As we look at a task that requires firmness let us always see it as needing appropriate levels of rigor, tempered and informed by all our other faculties too.

Be strong, and use our strength wisely.

Shavuot is coming!

Day 43 of the Omer - kind actions

Chesed in Malchut - kindness and mercy in the dwelling presence of the universe.

We want to act, to make a difference. Let us find compassion for our acting - when we act not as well as we would like we can opt to forgive. When we do not act at all let us avoid blame and doubt.

Be kind and then do with kindness.

The last week of the Omer has begun!

Day 35 of the Omer - Grow from smallness

Malchut in Hod - the manifestation of reality in humble smallness.

Gaining perspective must be put to some use. We engage in contemplating how insignificant we are so that we can act effectively. So we must put that acquired wisdom into action and not get lost in our insignificance.

The seed must germinate and grow or not fulfill its purpose.

May our counting lead us to better agency!

Day 28 of the Omer - Knowing Now Planning Better

Malchut in Netzach - sovereignty, the rule of the present, in the persistent eternal victory.

Taking a "now" view when we plan long term - we work to appropriately assess the situation as it is, before we think strategically.

How many of our plans start with a ideas less than realistically connected to our current situation?

Taking moments or minutes, depending upon the scope of our hopes and projections, to reflect on where we are before deciding where we will go, connects our visions of the future to the present where we start.

Wishing everyone insight into the present so that we can count towards a better future.

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Day 21 of the Omer - Counting is different today

Malchut in Tiferet - the active presence of meaning realized in balanced beauty.

On this day, conceiving of balanced beauty escapes me.

I am stuck in the world of action and tragedy. Tonight, this ex-pat recovering New Yorker is a Bostonian. My heart is broken and all of its pieces are at the finish line.

May all of have lost loved ones be comforted among the mourners of Zion.

May there be healing for all those harmed, and may it come soon.

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Day 14 of the Omer - Strength in patience

Malchut in Gevurah - sovereignty, the manifestation, in strength.

How do we complete a strong action, make it real?

Acting strongly, moving with strength that is effective and real, requires just as much thought as any other type of effective action. To make strength real, we must invest ourselves in becoming strong, and using our strength wisely.

On this day of the Omer I will bide my time, and gather my strength. Sometimes, the best and most rigorous action may be acting with patience and deliberation.

Wishing all of you strength as we complete two weeks of the Omer.